Repoussé Silver Boxes in the Shape of Lions
Known as ‘Salak Dun’ in Thai, Repoussé is an internationally recognized metalwork technique requiring highly skilled craftsmanship to delicately craft the pattern on the surface of the metal and emboss from the back to give a higher relief. A few among many famous examples of repoussé are silver bowl or stem tray. Featured in the timed auction is a variety of repoussé silverware. Amongst the highlight items are repoussé silver boxes in the shape of lions.
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These repoussé silver boxes in the shape of lions were created by expert Chinese artisans who settled in Thailand and worked as silversmiths for living. They were recognized as ‘Shanghai Artisan’ at the time when Shanghai was China’s most famous city with one of the world’s largest seaports during western occupation. The silver box was a storage container for betel nuts, tobacco, and paraphernalia. Additionally, due to the delicately craft pattern, it was also a precious collectible chosen to compete in antique competitions.
In addition to the exceptional craftsmanship, what makes these repoussé silver box so remarkable is the lions’ eyes, tongues and balls beneath the paws are moveable. On the other hand, this shape of the lions does not resemble actual lions as they are not native to classic Chinese imagery as the animal was unknown to the ancient Chinese; real lions were first sent to China as a tribute in 87 BC during the Han Dynasty (206 BC -220 AD). The image of Chinese lions resembles the Buddhist lions from India, where they were represented as the guardians of Buddhism. They are rather stylized dogs, so they are referred to as the lion dog or Foo dogs. Male lions are usually depicted playing with embroidered brocade balls with attached flowing ribbons, while female lions with a club. According to Chinese legend, lions produced milk with their paws, so people would leave balls for them to play with, this would transfer the milk into the ball. Another interpterion of the lion and ball is akin to the symbolism of the dragon and the flaming pearl.
Lot 685: A carved and repoussé silver box in the shape of lion
Circa: 20th century
Lot 688: A group of carve and repoussé silver boxes in the shape of lions
Circa: 20th century